By Patrick Gavin, Politico
Two comedians are tackling the sensitive topic of Islamophobia in the way they know best: laughter.
Negin Farsad and Dean Obeidallah are the co-directors of "The Muslims Are Coming!" which tracks a group of Muslim-American stand-ups as they perform across the country and tackle people’s stereotypes.
"Around the election of Barack Obama and the controversy regarding a mosque near the World Trade Center, we were both kind of struck to the extent to which being Muslim was such an accusation," Farsad said. "And I think that it continues for some people five years later."
Obeidallah said they want to "counter those who are preaching hate and those who don’t know about Muslims."
The two have some powerful friends in their corner; the film features cameos from such notables as Jon Stewart, David Cross, Janeane Garofalo, Colin Quinn, Lewis Black and Aasif Mandvi. Negin was named "One of the Fifty Funniest Women" by The Huffington Post, and Obeidallah has appeared on Comedy Central’s "Axis of Evil Comedy Tour" and is a weekly contributor to CNN.com.
"I think comedy is a great vehicle to reach out to people," Obeidallah said. "I think comedy has been used since the 1960s -- with people like Lenny Bruce, Chris Rock, George Carlin, Richard Pryor and, today, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert -- using stand-up comedy to entertain and educate people."
"It just disarms people," Farsad said. "It stops them in their tracks."
The two are keenly aware, however, of the thin line they walk in their comedy.
"I think there’s always this kind of battle with comedians between poking fun at our societal tendency to stereotype and perpetuating stereotypes," Farsad said. "You have to be careful that you’re not perpetuating the stereotype and that, instead, you’re trying to undo the stereotype." (Read more)